The atomic number, as denoted on the periodic table, refers to the number of protons in a single atom of that particular element. Learn more about the organization of the periodic table with important facts from a science teacher in this free video on fundamental physics.
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So, what is an atomic number on the periodic table of elements? Now, this is where the atoms come to play again. Because, remember matter is everywhere, and atoms are the building blocks of the matter. So, the atomic number denotes, how many protons are in an individual atom from that particular element? In other words, the atomic number distinguishes one element from another. So, let's take a single atom from the elements of the periodic table, a nitrogen atom, right here. Using information found on the periodic table of elements, we can tell that an average atom of nitrogen has an atomic number of seven. So, this means that one atom of nitrogen contains seven protons, which also can mean it contains seven neutrons and then it means it contains seven electrons. And we're going to get into where these things belong inside an atom. So, remember one piece of that element, an atom. And remember over a billion of these things can fit on a head of pin. So, don't get fooled by the size of this, because this is enormous compare to what an atom really is inside. We'd have to jump inside an electron microscope. So, let's get into the inner workings of an atom.